Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.
After the crash (7/18/14, New Yorker): In the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, more questions existed than answers.
The best reporting involved a certain amount of restraint — namely, resisting the temptation to jump to conclusions.
Credit the New Yorker’s David Remnick, then, for this column the following day. He provides perspective by interviewing a former PR man for Vladimir Putin and Boris Yeltsin, choosing to take a macro view of the crisis in Ukraine rather than specifically dissecting the crash. And before U.S. government officials — and even President Obama — weighed in with their thoughts, Remnick warned of the dangers of assuming before investigating:
But let’s stop here and register the proper cautions and caveats: There has been no investigation, no conclusive proof. (And there won’t necessarily be a proper and convincing investigation, either, considering the deliberately chaotic and militarized state of eastern Ukraine these days, and Russia’s clear interests.) We shouldn’t pretend to know for certain what we don’t.
Fallen bodies, jet parts, and a child’s pink book (7/18/14, New York Times): The other truly powerful article I read on the crash came from Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times. In this piece, there is no analysis of motive, questioning of government, or discussion of geopolitics.
There is simply a description.
Tavernise uses her first twelve paragraphs to document, in a straightforward manner, exactly what the crash scene looked like. She uses no hyperbole because she does not need any; the tragedy and disaster of the situation easily come through.
In a situation where so many journalists and pundits skipped over the human element, Tavernise beelines right to it … and provides a truly poignant perspective.
Pitchman: How Tom Emanski changed the sport of baseball — and then disappeared (7/17/14, Fox Sports): I will end the “3 Great Stories” segment this week on a lighter note.
Or, at least, that’s how it would appear at first.
But a piece that will attract many for its potential for nostalgia actually turns into a fascinating personality study.
Children of the 80’s and 90’s, who loved to watch sports, remember the name Tom Emanski. He helmed a series of baseball videos with classic commercials, the most famous of which featured MLB star Fred McGriff.
In this story on Fox Sports’ web site, Erik Malinowski performs one of my favorite tricks in long-form journalism: he takes a seemingly one-dimensional figure and provides three dimensions of context. In Emanski’s case, the context portrays a determined scout who built a baseball empire, achieved a longtime goal and made loads of money, and then decided to step away completely. Those who only remember Emanski’s commercials will be mesmerized.
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